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Oxnard Council Candidates Bank on Experience

October 20, 1988|MEG SULLIVAN | Times Staff Writer

The winners in the Nov. 8 race for two seats on Oxnard's City Council won't be able to chalk their victory up to beginner's luck. Of the four candidates who reported campaign contributions of more than $2,000 by Sept. 30, all have a long track record in civic affairs.

Even the front-runner with the least public experience, Tony V. Grey, 51, has served two years on Oxnard's Planning Commission, in addition to stints on the Ventura County Civil Service Commission and air-pollution and school district advisory boards. A council contender in 1984, he finished seventh in a 14-candidate pack. By the latest reporting period, however, he had the race's second-largest war chest, $7,954, which includes $4,500 of his own funds.

Two candidates, incumbent Dorothy S. Maron and resigning city Treasurer Geraldine Furr, are veteran officeholders. Maron, who declines to reveal her age, is seeking her third 4-year term on the council, to which she was elected after 10 years on the Oxnard Planning Commission. Furr, 65, has served as treasurer for a total of 25 years.

The only major candidate who has not held a city office in Oxnard is Edward W. Robings, 59. But he has frequently appeared before the council, either as Oxnard Chamber of Commerce president, secretary of Oxnard's World Trade Center or Oxnard College president, a position from which he retired in July.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 27, 1988 Home Edition Ventura County Part 9 Page 2 Column 5 Zones Desk 2 inches; 66 words Type of Material: Correction
An article Oct. 20 said Dorothy S. Maron, an Oxnard City Council candidate, had amassed campaign funds of $28,562. It failed to note that the sum includes $19,500 of her own money.
City Council candidate Geraldine W. Furr's husband, Roy, also lent $500 to his wife's campaign, which has raised $5,923.
Candidate Ed Robings contributed $450 to his campaign fund of $6,121.
As previously reported, another candidate, Tony V. Grey, put up $4,500 of his $7,954 in campaign funds.

Seven candidates are vying for the seats of Maron and Michael A. Plisky, who is running for mayor against the city's incumbent mayor, Nao Takasugi, and Councilman Manuel M. Lopez, whose term does not expire until 1990.

Because Maron, with a $28,562 war chest, is widely viewed as a shoo-in for one council seat, attention has focused on the seat of Plisky, who will lose a place on the council if he is not elected mayor. The controversial councilman has made no secret of plans to shift the balance of power from a council majority he views as liberal, free-spending and excessively agreeable to staff recommendations.

Neither Plisky nor his conservative council ally, Ann Johs, will reveal their choice in the complicated power play--"Let's just say that one of the candidates would be excellent," Johs said--but Furr is considered their favorite. She is a friend of both and an ally in their successful fight last November against a measure supported by the council majority to make the treasurer's office an appointed rather than an elected position.

However, Plisky opponents also are wary of Grey, a Plisky appointee to the Planning Commission. Both Furr and Grey, however, scoff at the notion of a Plisky alliance.

"I would not align with anybody," Furr said. "I'm an independent. I follow my own conscience and mind after I do my own homework."

If Lopez were to win the mayor's race, an election would be held in early March for his seat, city officials said.

Also vying for the seats in the regular election are Roy Lockwood, 67, a retired federal fire chief who frequently attends council meetings; Paul H. Chatman, 43, a merchandise manager at JC Penney and member of the Oxnard Advisory Committee, the Ventura County Homeless Task Force and the Zoe Christian Center's board of directors; and Bruce Forsyth, 57, a businessman and real estate broker.

Few Disagreements

The candidates are more abundant than they are diverse. On issues from affordable housing to the Zoe Christian Center, the homeless shelter that faces closure by the city in April, the four major candidates agreed more often than they disagreed in separate interviews with The Times.

While all said they advocated some form of "controlled" or "managed" growth, they also all opposed an ordinance limiting growth in the county's only major city without such a measure. Instead, they expressed confidence that efforts by a citizens advisory group revising the city's general plan will result in the city growing at a manageable pace.

"Let the general plan take care of it," Grey said, summing up sentiments.

All but Furr said they would defend City Manager David Mora against the ouster that Plisky opponents say is imminent if the balance of power shifts on the council. However, even Furr, who blamed Mora for "a terrific morale problem" when Furr announced her resignation in July, insisted she does not plan to push for the embattled city manager's removal. Instead, she said she would encourage him "to follow the policies set by the City Council."

"There's some discussion that he doesn't understand some guidelines," she said. "I would want to make sure that he has a clear understanding."

Voter Decision

All agreed that voters should decide whether the city should be carved into councilmanic districts, a move recently proposed by a citizens group. Only Grey, however, said he would support the measure; the rest said they were undecided.

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